The apparent absence of existing weapons stocks, therefore, does not mean Hussein did not pose a WMD threat. In fact, fragments of evidence in Kay’s report about ongoing biological weapons research suggest that Hussein may have had a quick ‘break-out’ capacity to threaten his neighbors and, indeed, the United States with biological agents (possibly including infectious agents).
The author goes on to say that the presence of actual WMDs widely assumed before the war has nevertheless been debunked (at least, so far). What we need is an analysis of why we got wrong what we got wrong. There’s no question that we were led to believe that there were stockpiles of WMDs unaccounted for in Saddam’s Iraq before the war. And we still don’t have a good explanation for that. But this does not mean that the war was not justified in the terms under which it was waged: that Iraq had an obligation to account fully for its WMD program (it didn’t), that it cease all such research and development (it didn’t), that it stop deceiving U.N. inspectors (it didn’t), and, above all, that it posed a threat, via intermediary terrorists, that was intolerable after 9/11 (it did without a shadow of a doubt, as the Kay report shows). Is this kind of nuanced assessment – important for our future intelligence and war-making capacity as well as democratic accountability – possible in today’s polarized culture? We better hope it is. “